'If ITV thinks Celebrity Big Brother has been a hit, it's in bigger trouble than we thought'

Fern Britton and David Potts have both made it to the final of a muted Celebrity Big Brother reboot. (ITV/Shutterstock)
Fern Britton and David Potts have both made it to the final of a muted Celebrity Big Brother reboot. (ITV/Shutterstock) (Shutterstock for Big Brother)

There have been two major surprises during ITV’s first attempt at restoring Celebrity Big Brother to its heyday.

One: shouty Boltonian David Potts (Foghorn Too Much Leghorn) didn't turn out to be the absolute nightmare that his previous onscreen appearances and his opening night entrance to reality TV’s most famous house may have suggested he would be.

He has been a fabulous Big Brother housemate throughout. A genuine revelation. Under normal circumstances, he would fully deserve to be the last housemate standing at tonight’s grand final.

Two: The bigger shock is that ITV has apparently already decided that the next run of the non-civilian version of the show will also take up three weeks of prime time ITV1 airspace.

Which begs the question, what has Celebrity Big Brother — and what have we the viewers — done to deserve that?

Opening night aside, the viewing figures have not exactly set the world alight. And in terms of capturing the attention of the nation, CBB hasn’t even located the water cooler, never mind had people congregating around it to discuss the latest shocks and scandals.

As the weeks have gone by, I’ve even detected a slight drop in Good Morning Britain’s and This Morning’s fervour when it comes to cheerleading for their stablemate. (Stay strong, Dickie Arnold. Only one more night to go.)

I can only assume ITV is planning to open its chequebook and flood the next celebrity house with A-list names that will demand our attention.

If not, that would mean ITV believes that the last three weeks have amounted to an acceptable level of success. Which in turn would mean ITV is in a lot more trouble than I thought.

ITV has splashed the cash on some big name signings for Celebrity Big Brother (ITV)
ITV has splashed the cash on some big name signings for Celebrity Big Brother (ITV)

Of course, Big Brother will always have a small army of diehard devotees who will follow it to the death while defending it to the hilt by telling people who aren’t enjoying it so much that “It’s not aimed at you!”

I find that retort particularly dumb and galling, by the way. I know there’s no way Big Brother will ever recapture the thrill and impact of its Channel 4 early days, but as recently as its Channel 5 period I was still looking forward to watching it every night.

Sadly, despite boasting two judges from Simon Cowell’s old pop circus in its line up, this run has consistently lacked the X Factor.

My attitude has pretty much matched the feelings of Louis Walsh when tasked with peeling potatoes for Colson Smith: “I’m not having fun, but I’ll do it.”

In other words, on more than one occasion I’ve found myself thinking I’m only doing this because I’m being paid to do it. Still, if that’s good enough for Sharon Osbourne...

Sharon Osbourne - Celebrity Big Brother 2024. (ITV)
Sharon Osbourne - Celebrity Big Brother 2024. (ITV) (ITV)

Speaking of Mrs O and hard cash, the truth is that unless ITV is willing to spend big it would make absolutely no sense to continue airing the show on the main channel where it can get spanked by bizarre Channel 5 thrillers filmed in Budapest (no, I have no idea what Coma was all about either, but I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Jason Watkins next meets up with his agent).

ITV should just stick CBB on ITV2 and let it fight it out with Love Island to be top reality dog. Being hidden away there might also suit the production team.

As a format, Big Brother has always thrived on messing with the contestants’ minds and being — in gameshow terms — a little mean and manipulative.

ITV’s “recent troubles”, coupled with its determination to position itself as the caring, sharing “it’s good to talk” network, mean you can’t get away with that kind of evil behaviour in broad prime time light.

Consequently, the one time the producers tried to spice things up — with Bradley Riches’s backdoor eviction last night — it felt a little out of kilter and unnecessarily cruel.

The fact that Bradley was then allowed to go back into the house and say his goodbyes merely proved that the producers are working with one hand tied behind their backs — and also rendered the whole cruel twistiness of it fairly pointless.

I suppose it did get people talking though. The only other whiff of controversy I can recall was Ekin-Su from Love Island complaining that unkind editing was to blame for her eviction. As opposed to, y’know, her own behaviour. We’ll have to wait and see whether ITV ends up making a public apology to Ekin-Su. (At this stage, I wouldn’t rule it out.)

In the meantime, if you were looking for an alternative damning indictment of this series, allow my notepad to offer you the final week highlights.

On Tuesday, David was so bored he decided to set his own secret mission: To persuade Marisha that she had to remove all the cutlery from the kitchen and hide it upstairs.

On Wednesday, the producers decided to set David a real secret mission: To start an argument with a housemate, any housemate. (I know, talk about them admitting failure or what?)

Anyway, David’s idea turned out to be much funnier and much more entertaining. So if he doesn’t win tonight, I know what ITV should do by way of recompense.

Make him executive producer on the next series. Oh, and buy him some trousers. Obviously.

The final of Celebrity Big Brother is on at 9pm Friday on ITV1.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo TV UK at https://uk.news.yahoo.com/itv-celebrity-big-brother-hit-bigger-trouble-104803072.html